I get a kick out of the different coaches around the tennis world who have begun to amass all sorts of credentials for themselves as coaches through various avenues.
It is fun for me to have put together the We Coach TENNIS page on Facebook and this blog where I can begin to find a voice within the tennis community. It is also such a great learning opportunity I have now getting to broadcast a radio show each week around the country on BLOGTALKRADIO and speaking to some of the best in the profession of coaching tennis. The radio show with the same name We Coach TENNIS has nothing to do with me. Nobody wants to hear from me as I am the first to admit.
As I get old and I will never want to put myself in the category of being an “expert”. I feel like those guys/gals who become experts stop asking questions and stop learning. And many of them feel like experts after attending a few conventions and seminars and smoothen their “silver tongues”.
There is always more to learn and most of it is going to be by doing and as coaches we will not find it in books, videos or seminars. We will get better as coaches through experience and if I am not mistaken our experience will bring us back around the the starting off point where we began. For me and my way of thinking the game of tennis is just that simple.
While the game of tennis has changed it still is played on the same size court, with a racquet, and the same size net. In general the human beings are still of a relative size range who play the game and we are only so quick and so fast. You can have the small Rochus types and the long, tall Isner types. But the best player in the world is 6′ 1″ and there will probably continue to be players of all sizes and shapes playing the game of tennis throughout the world in the years to come.
One thing I have always found is the best of the best coaches work very hard to keep the game of tennis very simple for their players. It could be possible that a coach needs to know a great deal but how much he knows is not that important to his player–if he can get the player to do what he wants them to do with less. Simplicity is the key.
Today and now I see these experts all getting together at this or that meeting or speaking on this or that topic and they remind me of the movie “Spies Like Us”. There is a scene where everyone meets in a tent and they turn to each other saying “Dr., Dr., Dr!” Everyone has the credentials. Click Here for a link to that scene.
The best coaches I ever came across in all my years of coaching and playing were the guys/gals who said the least, made what they said easy to understand and they were very careful which words they used at what point in time. In most cases they are not the kinds of coaches inclined to run around the world giving talks at conventions. Often they are known to their players and to a small group of people close to them.
One of the best tennis coaches I ever knew in this regard was a man named Gene Stogner. Gene could look at a situation and sum it up in 2 words. Gene could see through much of the BS and he could nail it on the head every time in the simplest terms possible. I still remember sitting near he and Dr. Rene Rosas as they watched Rene’s son Ronnie Rosas and Frank Salazar battle in the finals of the Copper Bowl in Tucson, AZ. Ronnie Rosas was up a set and maybe 5-1 in the second and Frank Salazar fought through an incredible point that would have taken Ronnie to match point and Gene turns to Ronnie’s dad and says, It ‘s over now Babe! And it was. Salazar came back and won the match without dropping ner’ a game or two. Gene read the situation in an instant.
I saw it again with J.W. Isenhour as a kid myself when I watched and listened to him talk to another person about finding players. He knew exactly what needed to be done and went right to that. No BS!
Another example is Jack Sharpe from Chicago. One of the big topics that can differentiate one of these new-age experts from the rest of us is the topic of “periodization training”. Oh, how some of these expert coaches can go on about periodization training and the macro and micro cycles and all of the different components of a sound modern training system. To Coach Sharpe he never gave it much thought beyond 1/2 a period of your life you are on the court training and the other half 1/2 you are off the court. When “periodization” first came to tennis it was the new thing and everyone spouted out an aspect of it and spent time trying to figure how it fits into the tennis world. Many since that time have come to realize simpler is probably better for tennis.
One other example of this can be found from the golf world. Go get any one of Harvey Penick’s books on golf and his ideas about how to play the game and master it. He kept it all very simple. He had two books I loved: The Little Red Book and If You Play Golf You Are My Friend. To me they are classics and his genius was in how he communicated his ideas to his players in the simplest of terms.
The ideas from Coach Penick were clear, concise and his way allowed the players to work independent of the coach. Many of the “Information Merchants” in tennis complicate the whole ball of wax so much the player cannot figure out how to do what needs to be done themselves. I am not a fan of this. I like to see it done like Harvey Penick and some of the guys from yesterdays gone by did it.
Like this post? Share it with someone.Tweet